When you read through the definitions of “legacy” they all have to do with giving something of value to a future generation. It raises a lot of questions for me, one of which is, “What value do I add?”
I was first challenged with that question many years ago when I read Bob Buford’s book Halftime. In the book he challenges people at mid-life to move from trying to live a life of success to one of significance. Not long after reading Buford’s book I was in a meeting concerning the future of the association of churches I was leading and a larger regional organization I related to. There was a lot of discussion about what was relevant and what wasn’t. A business leader and member of the regional board stepped in to make a point about the difference between success and significance or “value added” by his words. He asked me, “Wayne, what would you do if this association no longer existed?” I quickly replied, I could always go back and pastor – been there, done that. I will never forget the piercing question that followed, “You mean you add no more value to what you do that you could so easily give it up?” To be honest, I am not sure what happened in the rest of that meeting – my soul had been pierced.
Since then I have gone through a leader development process called Focusing Leaders which helped me develop a personal calling statement and then equipped me to intentionally live it out. That process along with some further effort toward understanding my effective methodologies (what I am best at doing), major role (where I should do what I do) as well as beginning to understand what my ultimate contribution might be as it gives guidance to the direction of my life and work.*
I have been reading through the Gospels with an eye toward how Jesus functioned in his day to day life. He knew what his major role and ultimate contribution was early on. In fact, except for developing the disciples to where they could pick up the work he would leave behind Jesus could have fulfilled this ultimate destiny much sooner.
Ultimately the value or legacy that Jesus left behind was his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. As I read the Gospels though I see how the impact of this ultimate contribution was magnified by how he lived his life day in and day out. The way he showed compassion to the needy, the way he challenged the religious leaders, or the way he didn’t give up on those he had chosen even when they weren’t getting it. Somehow, I imagine, when Jesus left a room those he left were changed – “value added.”
This is the time of year I do a major look at my personal calling statement and evaluate how I have done the past year and then where my focus will be in the next. What I am finding is that I don’t have a problem with moving toward my ultimate contribution but where I get tangled up is in the day in and day out of living life.
This next year as I focus on my contribution and personal call I am going to pay more attention to the day in and day out legacy that I am leaving. I want to ask myself, “When I leave a room what value am I leaving behind?” I want to be more like Jesus when in John 13,
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.
For more information on these and other leadership development processes email me here!
For the past thirty-nine years Wayne has served the Church in local churches ranging in size from 50 to 4,500, in two denominational roles as well with an international missions organization. Through these varied experiences God has developed in him a deep passion for His Church and the leaders that lead her.
Wayne’s calling is see the re-missionalization of the Church in North America! MORE>>